Sampling and Case Selection

Introduction to Sampling and Case Selection

One of the most important decisions we make as researchers involves narrowing our substantive focus. The reasons for doing this are many. For instance,  there may be practical limitations to the scope of our projects, there may be theoretical justifications for selecting and focusing on specific cases and not others (such as research on “extreme” cases).

The lecture slides and readings below are intended to help you think about the advantages and disadvantages of the case selection methods that you choose.

Lecture by Professor Nelson on Sampling and Case Selection

General Resources

Resources on Specific Sampling Strategies

  • Sudman, Seymour. “Applied Sampling.” In Handbook of Survey Research, ed. Peter Rossi, James Wright, and Andy Anderson, New York: Academic Press: 145-94
  • Henry, Gary T. 1990. Practical sampling. Beverly Hills, CA:  SAGE: ch. 2
  • Biernacki, P., and D. Waldorf. 1981. “Snowball sampling.” Sociological methods and research 10(2): 141–163.
  • Babbie, Earl R. 1990. Survey research methods. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co: ch. 6.

Resources on Case Selection

Abstract: This article demonstrates how the selection of cases for study on the basis of outcomes on the  dependent variable biases conclusions. It first lays out the  logic of explanation and shows how it is violated when only cases  that have achieved the outcome of interest are studied. It then examines three well-known and highly regarded studies in the field of comparative politics, comparing the conclusions reached in  the original work with a test of the arguments on cases selected without regard for their position on the dependent variable. In  each instance,  conclusions based on the uncorrelated sample differ from the original conclusions.

Advanced Resources

updated August 3, 2017 – MN